A discussion came up in a group I’m in the other day about whether all romance novels should have happily-ever-afters. Many publishers (and contests) require it, though not all do.

My historicals have the expected sentimental ending, and I don’t intend to ever write one that doesn’t.

I wracked my brain trying think of a romance novel that I’ve read that hasn’t had a forever ending. I honestly don’t recall (and I’ve read thousands) ever reading one that didn’t have the couple fading into the sunset, smiles on their faces, and love in their hearts.

Personally, perhaps because I’m a romantic at heart and I’m also a bit old-fashioned, I prefer stories that end with the couple together long into the future, though I might torture them unmercifully getting them there.

All right, I do torture them, but only because I want them to appreciate what they get in the end.

In Bride of Falcon, my contribution to the novella set, Captivated by His Kiss, even I wondered if Ivonne and Chance would end up together. Too much worked against them, and it took some doing to overcome those obstacles.

Still, I know several romance authors who are just fine with happy for now, and they don’t worry so much about the long-term. I wonder if that’s more of a genre related thing. I write historicals, which tend to be a bit more traditional, but maybe contemporaries are different?

What do you think as a reader? As an author? Does it matter?

Still, if you’re a fan of those satisfying happily-ever-afters, but sure to grab a copy of Captivated by His Kiss. It’s a limited edition release and will disappear forever, April 12, 2014.

For under a buck, you can enjoy seven Regency tales from bestselling authors.

Here’s a bit about the authors and their stories.

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New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Cheryl Bolen and USA Today Bestselling Author Bronwen Evans are joined by Barbara Monajem, Ella Quinn, Collette Cameron, Wendy Vella, Heather Boyd, and Lauren Smith in this exciting collection of short regency romances. Be CAPTIVATED BY HIS KISS in these seven emotional stories of second chances, scandalous wagers, and the quest for true love. Lose yourself again and again in beautifully written romance.


Bereft of beauty as well as fortune, the exceedingly plain Miss Jane Featherstone has failed to attract any suitor during her three Seasons. Rather than be a burden to her brother and his obnoxious wife, Miss Featherstone vows to accept the first man who asks—even though she’s always worshipped a lord who’s far above her touch. . .

Lord Slade must marry an heiress in order to honor the deathbed vow he made to his father, and he needs Miss Featherstone’s help in wooing her beautiful cousin. After her initial anger, Miss Featherstone agrees to his scheme, telling him she’s doing so because she admires his Parliamentary record of humanitarian legislation and his reverence for truth. But the more he’s with the two cousins, the more attracted he becomes to Miss Featherstone. What’s a man of his word to do? Break a vow to a beloved father—or follow his heart with Miss Featherstone?


Since her first book was published to acclaim by Harlequin Historical in 1998, Cheryl Bolen has written more than 20 books, mostly historical romances. Several of her books have won Best Historical awards, and she’s been a New York Times and USA Today bestseller.

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Marcus Danvers, the Marquis of Wolverstone, is renowned for his cynical demeanor. It’s rumored that long ago, a beautiful woman broke his heart. Now he lives life for pleasure. That is, until the beautiful, as she is deceitful, Contessa Orsini re-enters his life with a wager he cannot resist.


USA Today Bestselling Author Bronwen Evans grew up loving books. She writes both historical and contemporary sexy romances for the modern woman who likes intelligent, spirited heroines, and compassionate alpha heroes.

Her debut Regency romance, Invitation to Ruin won the RomCon Readers’ Crown Best Historical 2012, and was an RT Reviewers’ Choice Nominee Best First Historical 2011. Her first self-published novella, To Dare the Duke of Dangerfield, was a FINALIST in the Kindle Book Review Indie Romance Book of the Year 201,2 and a finalist in the RomCon Readers’ Crown Best Historical 2013. Her first contemporary released December 2012, The Reluctant Wife, won the RomCon Readers’ Crown Best Category 2013.

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Widowed and destitute, Edwina White takes a position as governess in a remote village in the north of England—in a haunted house. She’s so desperate that she’ll take anything, and besides, she doesn’t believe in ghosts. Little does she know that her new employer is the seducer who lied and deceived her many years ago.

Sir Richard Ballister inherited an estate with a ghost and a curse, and every governess he hires leaves within a week. Finally, a woman desperate enough to stay arrives on his doorstep—but she’s the seductress who dropped him many years earlier for a richer man.

The last thing Richard and Edwina want is to work together, but they have no choice. Can they overcome the bitterness of the past in time to unravel a centuries-old knot and end the Christmas curse?


Barbara Monajem wrote her first story at eight years old about apple tree gnomes. After dabbling in neighborhood musicals and teen melodrama, she published a middle-grade fantasy when her children were young. Now her kids are adults, and she’s writing for grownups. Her Bayou Gavotte series of paranormal mystery and romance takes place near New Orleans and features hereditary vampires, a Native American telepathic rock star, and other characters with paranormal abilities. She also writes sexy Regency romances with bold, passionate heroes, spirited, adventurous heroines, and the occasional touch of magic. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia, with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and feline strays.

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After five Seasons, Ivonne Wimpleton has accepted she’s a haute ton undesirable. Always a bit ungraceful, her suitors are men desperate to get their hands on her marriage settlement. Guarded and aloof, she’s resigned herself to spinsterhood. She doesn’t mind her fate, since Chancy Faulkenhurst—known as Chance to his friends and the man who once held her heart—left for India years ago without an explanation.

When Ivonne’s father, Viscount Wimpleton, refuses Chance’s request for her hand in marriage, he transfers to the East India Troops. Chance’s dreams of making Ivonne his wife are soundly dashed. Ignoring her letters, he closes the door on his heart and Ivonne and remains in India.

Six years later, severely injured during a battle, Chance returns to England physically and emotionally scarred. His love for Ivonne remains just as strong. When he learns due to a whim of Prinny’s she must choose one of the despots whose offered for her hand, Chance is determined that none should have her but him. Except, not only is she infuriated he made no effort to contact her, in Chance’s absence, his father arranged a marriage for him and fully expects Chance to honor the agreement.

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Past experiences have taught Miss Hero Appleby to distrust noblemen, especially self-indulgent rakes like Lord Caruthers. However she was desperate for money to support the orphans in her care this Christmas, so it is to him she must go. Perhaps it had been wrong of her to point out his many faults so boldly, but the man had reeked of last nights over indulgences, and that coupled with his indolent lifestyle, drove her to distraction and all thoughts of lady-like behaviour disappeared in his infuriating presence.

Max didn’t remember much of his first meeting with the annoying Miss Appleby, thanks to the after effects of one good drink too many. But he vaguely recalled he’d promised her something, just to get her out of his house so he could suffer in peace. Unfortunately peaceful was the last word to describe her as he found out the next day. She was unlike any woman he knew – opinionated and rude certainly, but she worked selflessly to provide for children that were not even of her blood. Max had believed himself incapable of emotion yet Hero was making him feel things that he had believed were long dead. Could his long forgotten Christmas wish really come true?


Wendy Vella is a lover of all things romantic. Her novels are sensual with just a touch of wicked and set in the often intriguing backdrop Regency England. Writing is something she has always found time for; and penned her first novel at eighteen, though she is adamant it will never make an appearance further than the closet in which it currently resides.

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Overworked London banker David Hawke has two goals for his week in the seaside town of Brighton: one, recover an overdue debt from a good friend and neighbor and two, relax for the remaining holiday without any further distractions. When his friend’s impulsive younger sister barges into his home to beg his aid, he’s drawn deeper into her life and scrambling to keep their relationship on a professional level.

Abigail Watson may be considered too young to have the cares of the world on her shoulders but her brother is in financial trouble and she’s desperate to help him recover. Despite the impropriety, she appeals to the bachelor next door for an extension on the debt and his help to secure her brother a wealthy wife. However, matchmaking never runs smoothly and falling in love is something neither one counted on.


Bestselling historical author Heather Boyd believes every character she creates deserves their own happily-ever-after, no matter how much trouble she puts them through. With that goal in mind, she writes sizzling regency romance stories that skirt the boundaries of propriety to keep readers enthralled until the wee hours of the morning. Heather has published over twenty novels and shorter works. She lives north of Sydney, Australia, and does her best to wrangle her testosterone-fuelled family (including cat Morpheus) into submission.

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Helen Banks is going to die. There is no other option: either fight a duel in her twin brother’s place or see him die. But Helen never counted on the man she was to duel with being the same man she admired from afar for so long, Gareth Fairfax, a wealthy lord and the man sworn to exact his payment from the Banks twins through any means.

When Gareth discovers his opponent is a woman and more importantly, the sister of the man he means to kill, he demands satisfaction of some kind. He gives her two choices. She can return to his estate and become his mistress, or he can send her home and settle the matter with her brother by finishing the duel. Helen, unable to ignore the secret longing she’s had for Gareth, decides to accept his proposal and go with him back to his estate, thankful that her desire for him also saves her brother’s life.

Helen accepts the devil’s bargain and agrees to stay with Gareth, at his beck and call, putting more than her innocence in danger as Gareth begins his slow seduction. With each passing hour, she sees the tortured heart of a man who’d once loved and lost. Helen fears she may lose her own heart to him, and believing she can never lay claim to his heart. But as they challenge the limits of their passion and the sensual delight they find in each other’s arms, they may find that love is within their reach.


Lauren Smith is an attorney by day, author by night, who pens adventurous and edgy romance stories by the light of her smart phone flashlight app. She’s a native Oklahoman who lives with her three pets—a feisty chinchilla, sophisticated cat and dapper little schnauzer. She’s won multiple awards in several romance subgenres including being an Breakthrough Novel Award Quarter-Finalist and a Semi-Finalist for the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award.

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USA Today Bestselling Author, COLLETTE CAMERON pens Scottish and Regency historicals featuring rogues, rapscallions, rakes, and the intelligent, intrepid damsels who reform them. Blessed with three spectacular children, fantastic fans, and a compulsive, over-active, and witty Muse who won’t stop whispering new romantic romps in her ear, she still lives in Oregon with her husband and five mini-dachshunds, though she dreams of living in Scotland part-time. Admitting to a quirky sense of humor, Collette enjoys inspiring quotes, adores castles and anything cobalt blue, and is a self-confessed Cadbury chocoholic. You'll always find dogs, birds, occasionally naughty humor, and a dash of inspiration in her sweet-to-spicy timeless romances.

21 Responses

  1. Evangeline Holland

    I’m of the mind that people get antsy over the HEA/HFN when they get bored with the romance genre. And sometimes the genre can get so mired in the same tropes, character types, settings, etc that it does seem like the HEA requirement is what places romance novels in a creative bind.

    The HEA is my guaranteed promise that I’m reading a romance. I then trust the author to do just about anything with the h/h because I know they’re going to end up together.

  2. Barbara Monajem

    I always want a happy ending but am more likely to be cynical about it in a contemporary romance. So many marriages in end in divorce that I can’t help it, especially if the relationship is based mostly on sexual attraction.

    In historicals, I want the ending to be as blissful and optimistic as possible, because the hero and heroine usually have no choice but to be together for the rest of their lives. I want to completely, absolutely believe in their HEA. 🙂

  3. Alyssa Alexander

    An interesting question, Collette. I think I’ve read a few contemporaries that don’t have a forever HEA, though I can’t name them now, of course. To be truthful, it would depend on the story. I wouldn’t mind a non-forever HEA as long as there’s some sense of permanency to still get the “ahhh…” moment. Of course, there are always series like the Stephanie Plum series where there’s some romance but no HEA at the end of each book. I guess it depends!

  4. vvaught512

    Interesting article. I’m a huge fan of HEAs or at least HFNs endings. I still think they are expected in a romance, but I have read a few that ended on a cliff hanger. As long as I know up front that there will be a sequel, then I’m usually all right with it. Sylvia Day’s series have cliff hangers and I adore Gideon Cross, so I tolerate them. I think her publisher has something to do with the way she ended the third one. I haven’t read the one that just came out in the series, but I certainly plan to. I’ve just obligated myself to several books for reviews recently and can’t get to it. Thanks for writing such engaging posts. I always look forward to them, and of course I love your books!

  5. Collette Cameron

    Aaw, thanks Vikki. Come to think of it, I have read a couple of HFN ending that have been series. I did feel a little cheated because I wanted a full resolution and didn’t like being left dangling.

  6. Michelle McLean

    I want the HEA 😀 The one book that really stands out in my mind that didn’t have it was a Victoria Holt book. The heroine was a bit of a pill and tried to manipulate everyone the whole story. She did not end up with her love interest. She shouldn’t have. Yet I was so irritated by it that I actually chucked the book across the room LOL

    She’s had a couple others where the heroine didn’t end up with the man she’d been with the whole book. In one, her husband (arranged marriage but they had some fun passionate times) dies saving her life and she marries her childhood sweetheart. So, a HEA I suppose, but not the one I wanted. There were a couple others that ended up similarly. HEA from the author’s POV I guess, and probably the man who was the best for the heroine, but not the man she’d spent the whole book with. That really bugs me. These weren’t really love triangles either, the other men were just out of the picture for some reason.

    But yes…I want a good HEA or at the very least a HFN with a HEA in the horizon. And if a heroine is going to spend an entire book with one character, I generally want them to end up together. I just don’t see the point of showing their relationship for an entire book and then have them not end up together.

    Having said all that, I don’t mind a series where each book ends without a HEA…generally though there’s either a HFN or at indication that something is being worked on. If it’s an ongoing story like that, I’m cool with it. But for a stand alone book, yeah, gimme the HEA 😀

  7. Maggi Andersen

    An HEA is the reason I read romance. It’s the one genre where I can be confident the ending will be either an HEA or at least an HFN.

  8. Glenda

    I want my HEA. I believe they are completely possible in real life as well as fiction even in contemporary society. However, both parties have to be willing to work for that HEA – not all people fictional or real are willing to do that work.

  9. Gina Conkle

    I like my HEA. I know I’m in for a good ride when I can’t stop turning the pages, wondering “How can they possibly end up together?” Tropes and character archetypes are the same from ancient times. I don’t get tired of romance; rather, I notice that I’m reading too many wallflowers or too many rakes or lone wolf types. That’s when I switch it up with different storylines or try a new author. LOL! The only thing that makes me snark at romance is the plethora of oh-SO-hot-29-year-old-billionaires!!! I avoid those books like the plague.

    What’s wrong with a millionaire these days? Still, I want my HEA. The idea of HFN makes me feel cheated.

  10. JoannaM

    Agreed with all of you ladies! Except with the contemporary trope in which if it is categorized aa a Romance I expect a HEA! If someone is tired of it then go read a drama piece, a thriller, a paranormal, a psychological something but I honestly think if a book is called a romance it’s because romance will be part of the main subject and there would be no story if you take it out of the story.
    Plenty of great books out there with hints at romance, even sexy scenes, but not Romances in and of itself, just great books 🙂